Festa dell'Olio Nuovo at Lake Garda
At Lake Garda, at the foot of Monte Baldo in Brenzone, a one-hundred-year-old olive grove seamlessly flows into the next. Between the scattered hamlets, villages and ancient churches, the olive trees seem to outnumber the residents. It's no wonder that the new olive oil is rightfully celebrated here every year.
In the village of Castelletto, every year in November, the olive festival, la Festa dell'Olio Nuovo, is held. In honour of the high-quality oil with its healing properties, the restaurants of the village host culinary initiatives and menus around the New Oil from Brenzone for about a month. The restaurateurs create delicacies like "Carbonera": polenta with local cheese, served with cold pressed new oil from Brenzone. The equally valuable and tasty olive oil is delicious on warm bread and bruschetta. For over 120 years, Castelletto has hosted the traditional fair Fiera di Santa Catarina on the last two weekends of November, and it's the highlight of the month.
The extra virgin olive oil produced here has the protected name Garda DOP (Denominazione d'Origine Protetta) and is considered one of the highest quality products of Italian cuisine. It tastes best freshly pressed and from harvest and production lasts up to 18 months.
The three grades of olive oil:
There are three grades of olive oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil and Lampante Olive Oil.
For the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the ripened olives must be freshly picked from the tree and processed within a few hours in a modern olive mill. There must be no fermentation or oxidation. The oil must also only have an acidity of 0.8 per cent - ideal is a value of less than 0.5 per cent. A real extra virgin olive oil tastes slightly bitter and fruity. Also, the oleocanthal contained irritates the throat. The anti-inflammatory substance is said to prevent specific cancers, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Virgin Olive Oil is made from damaged or not entirely fresh olives in an older oil mill.
Lampante olive oil is already recognisable by its putrid smell and taste; It is refined chemically and released for sale only by adding Virgin Olive Oil.